ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
7th AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Peter McNeill new Etchells World Champion
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

Lake Macquarie yachtsman Peter McNeill today became the seventh Australian to win the prestigious Etchells World Championship when he outsailed a star-studded international fleet of 85 boats off Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The eight race series ended as it began, on a sparkling winter’s day and light winds, when McNeill and his crew of Greg Torpy and Paul Turner sailed Tom Pepper XVIII into fourth place to comfortable take out the series.

Going into the final heat, after an evening and morning of protests and changing decisions by the International Jury, McNeill and former World Champion Cameron Miles from Pittwater, sailing Pacesetter, were only two points apart.

Miles had a mediocre start in the big fleet and 5-7 knot easterly seabreeze, but climbed back up through the huge fleet from 40th place to finish 17th, sufficient to secure second place.

Third place overall went to Mornington sailor Glenn Collings, skippering Satu, who this evening won a protest against the Race Committee’s ruling that he had been OCS (on course side) as a premature starter in the final race.

He was reinstated to seventh place, displacing the provisional third placegetter, Pittwater sailor, Julian Plante, sailing Odyssey, who finished eighth today.

America’s Cup legend and two-times past Etchells World Champion Dennis Conner from San Diego sailed Menace into fifth place overall despite being penalised as a premature starter in today’s race.

Remarkably, McNeill did not win a race throughout the regatta, his placings being 2-8-11-13-8-5-(37)-4 to finish with 51 points. Nor did Miles, his placings being 11-12-8-5-10-3-(33)-17 for 66 points. Third placegetter Collings had one win to total 79 points from a scorecard of 14-23-16-12-(29)-1-6-7.

Plante had one win in the series to finish with 79 points from placings of 13-1-29-18-(42)-8-3-7. Conner finished fifth overall with 94 points and Squid (Chris Pratt, Adelaide) on 112 points.

A bonus for the winner is that not only did he win the World Championship with sails from his own sail loft, Peter McNeill Sails at Lake Macquarie, but fourth placegetter Julian Plante also used his sails against a fleet in which the majority of sails were North.

“After the Australian Winter Championship here at Mooloolaba, Julian and I thrashed out some ideas about the best sail shapes to win the Worlds,” McNeill said. “We hit the nail on the head.”

McNeill, 42, who lives at Nords Wharf on Lake Macquarie with his wife Leoni and two children Robbie (11) and Elise (9), agreed that he had been under pressure over the final days of the regatta because of protests and claims for redress, but added that the tension eased quickly soon after the start of today’s final race.

“We had a reasonable start in the middle of the line, but quite a few boats crossed our bows before we managed to get out to the left of the course where we picked up some good pressure lines and rounded the first weather mark in third place,” he explained.

“When we saw we were well ahead of our nearest rivals, we knew that if we sailed conservatively in the light breeze we had it (the championship) in the bag.

“We came here to win…second place in the Worlds was no option,” McNeill added.

McNeill has now sailed in a dozen Etchells World Championships, finishing third to Cameron Miles at Pittwater in 1999 and fourth to England’s Stuart Childerley in Auckland in 2002. He began his sailing at the Royal Prince Afred Yacht Club but represented the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club in this regatta.

While Paul Turner, a successful 16-foot skiff sailor from the Gosford Sailing Club, has been sailing with McNeill for five or six seasons, Greg Torpy, joined them only this year. Torpy, who crewed for Colin Beashel in the Star class at the Seoul Olympics, now lives on the Sunshine Coast and is a member of Mooloolaba Yacht Club.

While the winning Etchells sailed as Tom Pepper XVIII, it is actually named Mojo and was loaned to McNeill by Etchells newcomer Ian Knight. The original Tom Pepper XVIII is still owned by retired RPAYC yachtsman Barry Nesbitt.

Today’s race saw a win by prominent Hong Kong yachtsman Mark Thornborrow, skippering HK1269, who led around the course in the 6-7 knot easterly breeze for a comfortable victory from Victorian Noel Drennan sailing A Cat and Two Magpies, a play on his AFL football allegiance and that of his crew.

Third place went to New Zealand champion Cameron Appleton, skippering Embers, with Tom Pepper XVIII in fourth place. All three finished well back in the fleet as did another America’s Cup legend and pre-regatta favourite John Bertrand, at the helm of Two Saints and a Magpie.

Bertrand ended a generally disappointing World Championship in 14th place overall, finishing with an OCS (on course side) as a premature starter in Race 8. His past America’s Cup rival Dennis Conner was also over the line at the start, but dipped back to re-start while Bertrand sailed on. However, as Principal Race Officer Arthur Hodge had already hoisted the Z flag, Conner was still penalised 20% of placings.

After an initial general recall, 18 boats were called as OCS on the second start with only three returning and re-starting, leaving 15 boats scored as OCS.

Race 8 did not start until 12.40 hours instead of the scheduled 10.00 because of an announcement by the International Jury that it had reversed its decision to abandon yesterday’s Race 8, which was followed by a several applications for redress, all refused.

Provisional ten top boats after seven races, with one discard:

1. Tom Pepper XVIII (Peter McNeill, Lake Macquarie) 2-8-11-13-9-5-(37)-4, 52 points.
2. Pacesetter (Cameron Miles, Pittwater) 11-12-8-5-11-3-(33)-18, 68 points.
3. Satu (Glenn Collings, Mornington) 14-23-16-12-(29)-1-6-7, 79 points.
4. Odyssey (Julian Plante, Pittwater) 13-1-29-18-(43)-8-3-8, 80 points.
5. Menace (Dennis Conner, San Diego) 23-11-(44)-8-2-19-4-28/ZFP, 95 points.
6. Squid (Chris Pratt, Adelaide) 9-(40)-6-25-12-7-36-19, 114 points.
7. Moody Blues (Rob Bird, Perth) 48-2-(51)-11-13-9-7-26, 116 points
8. Whooska (Lucas Down, Mooloolaba) 29-(47)-1-31-5-23-8-22, 119 points.
9. Barry White (Damien King, Melbourne) 16-18-26-(51)-7-25-14-14, 120 points.
10. The Croc (Michael Manford, Perth) 19-57-33-1-1-(86/OCS)-13-12, 136 points

Full results and updates available at:

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
7th AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

International Jury reverses decision to abandon Race 7 of Etchells Worlds – last race today
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

The International Jury at the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004 this morning reinstated Race 7 of the regatta, reversing its decision of last night to abandon the race and order a resail today.

This means that the Championship, being sailed off Mooloolaba on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, will go ahead with just the eighth and final race to be sailed instead of also having to also run a resail of Race 7.

The Jury announced their revised decision this morning to a meeting of representatives of each of the 85 competing boats and the Chairman of the Race Committee, admitting that it erred in originally abandoning Race.

However, the matter is not over, with three boats, Racer XY (Jason Muir), Zulu (Andrew Hunn) and Squid (Chris Pratt) subsequently lodging applications for redress from the Jury’s decision. Satu II (Grant Wharington) is seeking a re-opening of the hearing,

The Jury is hearing these applications before the fleet is sent to sea to contest Race 8, which not likely to be before 11am, with a start for Race 8 not expected until 12 noon or later.

Going into the final race, only two boats have a chance to win the 2004 World Championship – Tom Pepper XVIII skippered by Peter McNeill from Lake Macquarie and Pacesetter skippered by Cameron Miles from Pittwater.

McNeill is on 47 points after discarding his worst race and Miles is on 49 points. In third place overall is America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner, sailing Menace from the San Diego fleet, who has 67 points on the board. Odyssey (Julian Plante) is on 72 points, as is Satu (Glen Collings).

Last night, the Jury denied 14 requests for redress arising from the Race Committee’s decision yesterday morning to abandon its first attempt to sail Race 7 of the eight race championship following a 45 degree windshift.

In a verbal announcement to protestors, the Jury ruled that the action of the Race Committee was in accordance with Rule 32.1(e) of the racing rules of sailing. However, the Jury then declared the subsequent running of Race 7 as invalid because of the time of the start.

This morning, the Jury called a meeting of one representative from each of the 85 competing yachts and the Chairman of the Race Committee and issued printed details of the Protest Hearing.

In Facts Found, the Jury announced:

1. The RC abandoned Race 7 as the leading boats were part way through the second leg.
2. The RC started the resail of Race 7 at 13.25 hours.
3. Sunset was at 17.22 hours.
4. Class Rules Appendix A 11D(3) requires no start for course 2 to be within 4 hours of sunset.
5. SI 15.1 states time limit for Course 1 is 4 hours and for Course 2 is 3 hours from the starting signal.
6. SI 1.3 states: “The International Etchells Class Association rules will apply except as modified by these Sailing Instructions. The Class Governors have approved all variations from Class Rules Appendices in these instructions.

The Jury announced that in denying claims for redress by competitors and then reinstating Race 7, its Conclusions and the Rules that Apply, were:

· Race 7 was abandoned by the Race Committee in accordance with RRS 32.1(e). There was no improper action of the Race Committee in abandoning Race 7.
· There was an improper action of the Race Committee in starting the resail of Race 7 within four hours of sunset, in breach of Etchells Class Rule A 11D (3).
· The Sailing Instructions do not amend Etchells Class Rule Appendix A11D (3) in that SI 15.1 refers to a time limit to complete the race and Etchells Class Rule Appendix 11D(3) limits the start time of a race.
· The Jury erred in awarding redress by abandoning Race 7 as during the hearing no boat demonstrated that the improper action of the Race Committee resulted in their finishing place in Race 7 or the series was made significantly worse through no fault of their own.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
6th AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Two points between top two boats going into final race
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

Just two points separate the two leading helmsmen, Peter McNeill and Cameron Miles, going into tomorrow’s eighth and final race of the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004 being sailed off Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Both McNeill, sailing Tom Pepper XVIII from Lake Macquarie, and Miles, the former World champion from Pittwater, skippering Pacesetter, finished well back in today’s light weather race and will discard that result.

Provisionally, this places McNeill on a net 47 points, Miles on 49 points, with America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner moving up to third overall with a fourth place today in Menace, but he is 20 points behind McNeill on 67 points.

After several delays, including abandoning the first attempt to sail race seven and two general recalls, today’s race was won by young Brisbane yachtsman Mark Bradford, sailing Racer X from veteran Melbourne sailor and two-times former World champion John Savage, sailing Cobra IV, with third place going to another young sailor, Julian Plante, at the helm of Odyssey.

However, more than a dozen boats are seeking redress from the International Jury under Racing Rule 62 as a result of the Race Committee’s decision to abandon the first attempt at sailing race seven this morning. The hearing is being held this evening at Mooloolaba Yacht Club.

Principal Race Officer Arthur Hodge abandoned the race because of a 45 degree windshift when the leading boats were about halfway down the first spinnaker run.

Among the skippers seeking redress are Dennis Conner who was sharing the lead with the Pittwater yachtsman Rob Brown, sailing Steam Packet V, and Michael Coxon at the helm of North Sydney. Also seeking redress is Cameron Miles.

They are expected to claim that their positions overall in the championship were materially prejudiced by the Race Committee’s decision to abandon the race.

After the first attempt to sail race seven, followed by two general recalls and a postponent, racing did not get under way properly until 1.25pm, almost three-and-a-half hours after the scheduled start. The race was sailed in a 5-8 knot south-easterly and flat seas.

With the PRO hoisting the black flag, six boats were scored OCS, including Tasmanian Andrew Hunn in Zulu, who as a result has dropped from fifth to 13th in overall standings. Another who has faded from the top placings is super maxi skipper Grant Wharington in Satu II, who finished 68th in the light air and has dropped from third to 10th overall.

Today’s race was won by young Brisbane yachtsman Mark Bradford, sailing Racer X, winning by more than a minute from veteran Melbourne sailor and two-times former World champion John Savage, sailing Cobra IV, with third place going to another young sailor, Julian Plante, at the helm of Odyssey.

Savage is still sailing with Peter Gillon and Andrew Plympton, the same crew that won the Worlds in 1979 and 1988.

Bradford, a 33-year-old Brisbane sailmaker, is now part of the BMW Oracle America’s Cup crew in the USA. He said he got an extraordinary port hand start on the starboard side of the line and then “played the shifts up the middle of the course” to follow Savage around the first weather mark.

“However, we out-foxed him on the spinnaker gybes, got through to the lead and once in front we had first use of the wind pressure,” Bradford said. He added that in three years he had now sailed in 20 major regattas in the International Etchells class, winning State championships in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the New Zealand Nationals. He finished second to Englishman Stuart Childerley in the 2001 World Championship in New Zealand.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
6th AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Cameron Miles granted OCS redress
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

The International Jury at the ACE Etchells World Championship last night reinstated former World Champion Cameron Miles to third place in yesterday’s race six of the series, finding that the Race Committee had erred in scoring him OCS (on course side) as a premature starter.

While Miles, from the Pittwater fleet, is still second overall with two races to sail, he is now only three points behind Peter McNeill, from Lake Macquarie, compared with the 13 points difference in yesterday’s original provisional results.

McNeill, skippering Tom Peppper XVII, is on 34 points, Miles, sailing Pacesetter, on 37 points while in third place is Mornington yesterday Grant Wharington in Satu II, on 53 points.

After hearing evidence from the crew of Pacesetter and viewing video evidence, the International Jury granted redress under Racing Rule 62.1, finding that their was sufficient doubt that the boat had been OCS.

However, the Jury denied redress for two other competitors, The Croc, skippered by Michael Manford from Perth, and North Sydney, helmed by Michael Coxon from Sydney.

The Melbourne boat, Barry White, skippered by Damien King was disqualified from race five after a protest by Mooloolaba entrant Whooska (Lucas Down) over a tacking incident at the mark under Rule 18.3 Tacking at a Mark.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
5th AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Spectacular day on the water at Etchells Worlds
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

Strong winds, collisions, disqualifications, wild broaches, torn sails, protests, some minor injuries to the sailors, and even a whale on the race course, provided a spectacular fourth day of sailing in the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004 off Mooloolaba on the Queensland Sunshine Coast today.

Michael Manford from Perth, skippering The Croc, followed his win yesterday by taking out this morning's race in fine style, but was among several boats disqualified for being OCS (on course side) at the start of the afternoon race. 

Among the others called by the Race Committee was overall second placegetter Cameron Miles, a former Etchells World Champion from Pittwater, helming Pacesetter, and leading Sydney sailor Michael Coxon, steering North Sydney.

The afternoon race went to Satu, skippered by Glen Collings from Mornington, Victoria, a former World OK dinghy champion who has been sailing Etchells for only the past year.

At the end of the day, after six of the eight races on the program, the clear overall leader is still Peter McNeill from Lake Macquarie with Cameron Miles holding second overall, despite his disqualification from race six. 

However, results are provisional with eight protests or appeals for redress, with both McNeill and Miles before the International Jury tonight,

McNeill, steering Tom Pepper XVII, continued his consistent sailing with a 9th and a 4th today for a total, after one discard race, of 35 points.  Miles has 47 points after being able to drop the OCS.

Ocean racing yachtsman Grant Wharington, steering Satu II, also from Mornington, has moved up to third overall with placings of 10th and 3rd today to be on 53 points, while Chris Pratt from Adelaide has sailed Squid into a close fourth overall on 58 points.

Just one point back is Tasmanian Andrew Hunn, sailing Zulu.  He has 59 points after discarding the morning race result of 51st and finishing 12th this afternoon.

It was a day of difficult conditions for race officials and sailors, with the freshening breeze backing from west nor-west to west sou-west and varying in strength during the day from 12 knots to 20 knots.  A short, choppy sea added to the testing conditions.

This morning's race five saw the first general recall of the competition with Michael Manford getting an excellent start in The Crop and working the oscillating breeze up the course. 

With a large number of boats coming into the first weather mark on port tack, then tacking to lay the mark, amid an armada of starboard tackers, there were several collisions, including one in which three boats were involved.

However, Manford was well clear of the melee and sailed away to lead at each mark, with Dennis Conner steering Menace into second place at the finish,  third going to Melbourne international yachtsman Noel Drennan, sailing A Cat and Two Saints.

With the finish off the wind, it was an extraordinary sight as 85 boats came surfing down to the line, at times a dozen or more boats abreast.

Race officials called six boats as OCS at the start of race six, among them being Michael Manford, Cameron Miles and Michael Coxon.  Dennis Conner was also over the line at the gun, but returned to re-start.  "Coming back from 85th to finish 18th was very pleasing," an amiable Conner said later.

Glen Collings, the former World OK Dinghy Champion from Victoria's Mornington Yacht Club, worked the middle of the course, picking the windshifts well to grab a handy lead at the first weather mark and leading for the rest of the race.

Cameron Appleton, the Team Zealand America's Cup deputy helmsman tried to force them into a match race over the final few hundred metres to the finish but could not break through. "We knew they were coming at us and were prepared and it was great to beat a crack America's Cup crew," a delighted Collings said after the race.

Appleton finished 23 seconds astern of Collings with Cameron Miles crossing the line in third place but OCS, third thus going to Grant Wharington with Peter McNeill steadily improving throughout the race to finish fourth.

The Italian crew of Hobe El Bahir continued their run of bad luck.  They broke their mast on Tuesday, sailing up the Moololah River to their berth, borrowed a spar rig from Dennis Conner to race yesterday, but their regatta virtually ended today with the boat holed in a collision and their spinnaker blown to pieces.

While the large whale surfaced several times near the Italian boat, there was no report that it caused the hole in the hull. 

Several boats retired with sail and rig damage in the strong winds, while Australian champion Mark Bulka from Mornington, sailing Balanced A-Tac retired from race six with a crewman suffering a back problem.

Full results on website:

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
4th AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Lake sailor’s narrow overall lead in Etchells Worlds
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

Lake Macquarie sailmaker Peter McNeill holds a narrow overall points lead after today’s fourth race of the ACE Etchells World Championship, being sailed off Moolooolaba on the Queensland Sunshine Coast.

Steering Tom Pepper XVIII, McNeill is two points clear of former World Champion Cameron Miles, sailing Pacesetter from the Pittwater fleet, while third overall is the Masters sailor from Melbourne, Bruce McBriar, skippering Fast Forward.

In a series of fluctuating fortunes in the changeable winds and sea conditions on this large bay of the Pacific Ocean, these three and Tasmanian Andrew Hunn, sailing Zulu, are the only skippers in the 85 boat fleet who have managed a top 15 place in each race.

McNeill finished 13th in provisional results for race 4, while Miles narrowed the points lead with a fifth place. McBriar placed ninth while Hunn was 14th.

Today’s race, sailed in a south-westerly breeze that varied from 5 knots at the weather mark close inshore to 15 knots at the leeward mark, 2.5 miles further to seaward, saw a fine win by Michael Manford from Perth, sailing Crocodile, from Brisbane skipper John Warlow, skippering Blinky 3 Eyed Fish, and New Zealander Cameron Appleton at the helm of Embers.

Michael Manford is a son of another prominent Perth Etchells sailor, Tony Manford, and is a past Australian Champion. He placed 5th in the 2003 Etchells World Champion in Auckland.

However, none of these top three placegetters in race 4 figure high on the pointscore as in previous races they have finished well back in the fleet. Manford’s win has lifted him from 35th to 23rd in standings, Warlow is 35th and Appleton is 31st.

Four more races remain to be sailed over the next three days to decide the 2004 Champion in this prestigious one-design keelboat class which has attracted some of the finest sailors in the world, America’s Cup legends, Olympians and past Etchells World Champions.

In what seems certain to be a high-scoring regatta, consistency will almost certainly determine the 2004 Champion. So far there have been four different winners of the four heats.

Provisional progressive points place Peter McNeill on 34 points from placings of 2-8-11-13, Cameron Miles on 36 (11-12-8-5), followed Melbourne skipper Bruce McBriar sailing Fast Forward, on 40 points (12-10-9-9) and Andrew Hunn from Tasmania, skippering Zulu, on 47 points (7-7-19-14).

Manford led from start to finish, getting a good start on the leeward side of the mid-line starters boat and playing the windshifts well to round just ahead of Miles with a well-timed roll tack right on the weather mark.

He opened up his lead on the spinnaker run, electing to go right on the second beat to windward, a decision that saw him sail into better wind pressure. Although strongly challenged near the weather mark, he held his lead on the second spinnaker run to maintain a handy break on the final windward leg of the 12-mile course to finish with a winning margin of about one minute.

Dennis Conner, skippering Menace, sailed a good race today, placing 8th which has lifted him to 14th overall while his former America’s Cup rival John Bertrand in Two Saints and a Magpie finished 20th to hold 7th place overall.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
3rd AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Two young sailors winners today in Etchells Worlds
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

Two young skippers, Julian Plante and Lucas Down, and their lightweight crews made yachting history at the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004 at Mooloolaba today when they outsailed many of the worlds's most experienced yachtsmen to each win a heat of the eight race regattas.

They each led from start to finish in the huge 85-boat fleet that included America's Cup legends, former World Champions and Olympians, showing brilliant sailing skills and race tactics in the 12-15 knot northerly breeze and lumpy seas.

Plante, 31, from Pittwater's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, sailed Odyssey to victory in heat two this morning while 28-year-old Lucas Down from the host club, Mooloolaba Yacht Club, helmed Whooska to win this afternoons heat on the Pacific Ocean off Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Both boats sailed with a crew of four, as against the normal three-man boats, the first time in the 29-year history of the Etchells class that a four-crew boat has won a heat of a World Championship.  The one-design class has a maximum crew weight of 285kg, enabling four-man crews for those with lighter sailors on board.

Down's crew included the youngest competitor in the fleet, 15-year-old Sean O'Rourke, from Mooloolaba, the current Australian champion in the Sabot dinghy class. "He was over the moon in being aboard a yacht that had won a World Championship heat," his skipper said back at Mooloolaba Yacht Club.

Both skippers said they sailed to a pre-conceived plan in each of the races they won today, based on conditions in yesterday's first race. "We went inshore, looking for flatter water and had a clear air start that put us into the lead at the first windward mark," Plante explained.

On the other hand, Down elected to go offshore in the second race looking for stronger wind.  Of sailing with a crew of four, Down commented: "It's an extra set of hands, hands and brains."

No so fortunate was another young competitor, Adam Emilari, 17, from Wellington, New Zealand.  He was hit in the nose by the boom of the Youth Team yacht, No Boundaries, during a crash tack near the end of heat three and tonight is in Nambour Hospital.

He is understood to have suffered a fractured nose and possible concussion and was semi-conscious when brought ashore.  He is reported to be in a stable condition.

Both races today were sailed in 12-15 knot breezes with lumpy seas and significant wind shifts that has seen many of the 'heavies' of sailing in the Etchells one-design class produce inconsistent results in the three races sailed so far.

Leading the overall pointscore is Lake Macquarie sailmaker Peter McNeill, skippering Tom Piper XVII, with placings of 2-8-11 for 21 points.  He is ten points clear of former World Champion Cameron Miles with Pacesetter who has placed 11-12-8 and Bruce McBriar from Melbourne, helming Fast Forward to 12-10-9, with each on 31 points.

Tasmanian Andrew Hunn is fourth overall with Zulu, on 33 points after placings of 7-7-19, while current Australian champion Mark Bulka, fifth overall with Balanced A-Tack, on 37 points with a  20-13-4 scorecard.   Julian Plante is sixth overall while today's other winner, Lucas Down, is 23rd in the fleet.

World number one Etchells skipper, America's Cup legend John Bertrand from Melbourne is 12th overall, with better results today, a 4th and a 13th after yesterday's 37th with Two Saints and a Magpie.

His America's Cup rival of 21 years ago, Dennis Conner from San Diego, sailing Menace, followed his 23rd place in race one with an 11th in the first race today, but then had a shocker, placing 44th. He is back in 24th place.

Two-times past Etchells World Champion John Savage from Melbourne, could not repeat this 3rd place from race one, today recording a reasonable 15th followed by a midfleet 41st.  Nevertheless, he is still 14th overall with Cobra IV.

In heat two this morning, Odyssey (Julian Plante) from the Perth yachtsman Rob Bird, sailing Moody Blues who finished just two seconds ahead of Melbourne skipper Ian Johnson, helming Bananas in Pyjamas.  John Bertrand, also from Melbourne, placed fourth in Two Saints and a Magpie followed by Brisbane fleet sailor Mark Bradford with Racer X and Steam Packet V (Rob Brown) from Pittwater.

In heat three this afternoon, Whooska (Lucas Down) won from Brisbane fleet's David Rose, steering the War of the Roses, who fought back to beat the experienced Sydney yachtsman Peter Gardner at the helm of Humpback.   Australian champion Mark Bulka, sailing Balanced A-Tac from Mornington, placed fourth, with local sailor David Turton finishing fifth with 1219, and Adelaide Chris Pratt sixth with Squid.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
2nd AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Michael Coxon takes out first race of Worlds 'with a little bit of luck'
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

Sydney sailmaker and international yachtsman Michael Coxon took out first winning honours in the eight race ACE Etchells World Championship which started off Mooloolaba today, capitalising on what he described as a 'little bit of luck' in the form of a significant windshift near the first mark of the 12 nautical mile course.

With a Pacific Ocean surf pounding onto the beaches of Queensland's Sunshine Coast, the fleet of 85 boats enjoyed exhilarating but testing sailing as the northerly breeze freshened from 12 to 17 knots during the afternoon.

However, Coxon, steering North Sydney, had to first overtake his elder brother, former Olympian Richard Coxon, also from Sydney, who led over the first two legs of the 12 nautical mile course with The Bottle, and two other Etchells Masters skippers, John Savage,  from Melbourne, steering Cobra IV and Rob Antill from Lake Macquarie, steering Trekka.

At the finish, Michael Coxon finished about 40 seconds clear of Peter McNeill, steering Tom Pepper XVII, from Lake Macquarie, with Savage, a past two times Etchells World champion, third.   Antill finished in fourth place and Richard Coxon fifth, losing the lead with a spinnaker handling problem at the end of the first downwind leg of the course.

"We had a terrible start and decided to go right in the hope of gaining some ground and we got that lucky break when the wind swung our way," Coxon said back at MooloolabaYacht Club. "That helped but I think we adjusted well to the changing conditions, changing gears as the breeze freshened to take full advantage of that early lucky break."

America's Cup legend Dennis Conner, who won yesterdays invitation race in Menace, placed 23rd while his former America's Cup rival, John Bertrand, was back in 37th place at the helm of Two Saints and a Magpie.

Bertrand had been well placed on the first windward leg, but took a 720 degree turns penalty at the first mark after a racing rules infringement with former World champion Cameron Miles, sailing Pacesetter.

Miles went on to finish 11th, with Bertrand losing many places in exonerating his rules breach.

Michael Coxon is shaping up as a strong contender for the World Championship, having won two of the lead-up regatta races and finishing second to Dennis Conner in the Invitation Race, Apart from the luck of the windshift, he and his crew sailed well in the testing winds today.

The Sydney sailmaker is a former America's Cup sailor and varies his Etchells sailing by being sailing master on the super maxi ocean racer, Alfa Romeo.

Crewing with him are former Olympian Steve Jarvin and Will McCarthy, currently a member of the Alinghi crew preparing to defending the America's Cup in 2007.

Today's race was delayed for 25 minutes because of a major windshift, but when Principal Race Officer Arthur Hodge fired the gun the 85 boats hit the line in a perfect start.

As the leading boats neared the first windward mark, however, the wind shifted to the right, giving boats on the seaward side of the course a marked advantage, reaching into the mark, while those on the inshore side had to make several extra tacks to reach the mark.

In fact, three Masters skippers (aged over 50 years) were out in front, with Richard Coxon leading from John Savage and Rob Antill.  At the end of the second beat to windward, 44-year-old Michael Coxon had edged ahead of his 59-year-old brother Richard and the other Masters while Peter McNeil also worked his way into second place.

At the finish, Michael Coxon won by a comfortable 40 seconds from McNeil, a Lake Macquarie sailmaker with Savage sailing an excellent race to retain third place, ahead of Antill, Richard Coxon and the young Brisbane sailor Jason Muir, sailing Racer XY with a crew of former Sabot champions.

Close astern of Muir came Andrew Hunn from Hobart, sailing Zulu with Chris Pratt from Adelaide sailing well to finish ninth with Squid.

Grant Wharington, the Melbourne yachtsman who pulled out of the Sydney Gold Coast ocean race with his super maxi Skandia early today to fly from Ballina on the NSW North Coast to make the start of the first race of the Etchells Worlds, had a disastrous day, finishing 49th in Satu II.

Two races are scheduled for tomorrow, but currently there is a strong wind warning for Queensland southern coastal waters that may effect racing.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
1st AUGUST 2004
Return to AY Homepage

Dennis Conner on the pace in Etchells Invitation Race
By Peter Campbell
Press Officer - Etchells Worlds Championship 2004

America's Cup legend Dennis Conner today showed he is still a formidable force in international yacht racing when he outsailed a huge fleet of 84 boats in the ACE Etchells World Championship invitation race off Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

The 62-year-old yachtsman from San Diego, obviously was delighted to be 'on the pace' going into tomorrow's first of eight races to decide the 2004 championship by standing up and doffing his cap to the Race Committee and spectator boats even before he crossed the finish line.

Steering Menace, the two-times former Etchells World Champion (not to mention his America's Cup, Olympic and other World championship victories) was at his tactical best in the light 8-10 knot north-easterly seabreeze.

Conner led the fleet over the first legs of the 10 nautical mile course, then lost first place to Sydney yachtsman Michael Coxon, steering North Sydney, but regained the lead on the final windward leg to the finish.  Third place went to Odyssey, steered by Julian Plant from the Pittwater fleet.

Conner said the conditions today were similar to his home waters off San Diego, California, adding, "I felt comfortable".

"There is luck involved and I was fortunate to be on the correct side on the first beat" he said. "Coxon sailed a good race and could have won today if the breaks had gone his way" he added.

While the Maroochy Shire invitation race does not count towards deciding the 2004 Etchells Champion, the gamesmanship of a good win today must boost the American's confidence after mediocre results in the pre-Worlds regattas.

And there was the added pleasure of seeing his America's Cup 1983 nemesis, John Bertrand, finishing 15th in the fleet. On the other hand, a couple of strong contenders, in Cameron Appleton from New Zealand and Noel Drennan from Melbourne, pulled out during the invitation race while Brisbane's Mark Bradford was disqualified for being a premature starter.

Of the other major contenders for the Etchells World title, former champion Cameron Miles improved during the race to finish fifth, while fellow Pittwater fleet representative Rob Brown placed eighth. 

The Sunshine Coast lived right up its name today, with a warm winter sun sparkling on the Pacific Ocean and a light north-easterly breeze providing the 260 sailors crewing the 84 one-design yachts perfect sailing conditions.

The start was delayed for 50 minutes, initially because of a general recall, then a change in wind direction before the seabreeze settled in from the north-east at 8-10 knots, without much change in direction or strength for the three hour races over 10 nautical miles well off the coast.

With an excellent starting line set by Principal Race Officer Arthur Hodge for the second start, the fleet got away cleanly with the exception of two boats which were called OCS (on course side) and disqualified - Racer X, skippered by Mark Bradford from the Brisbane fleet, and the Melbourne boat Barry White, with Damien King at the helm. 

Dennis Conner, representing the San Diego fleet, showed he is right back on the pace, steering Menace out in front of the fleet over the first two legs before being overtaken on the second beat to windward by North Sydney, skippered by Michael Coxon, from the Sydney fleet.

Conner and his crew turned in a brilliant role tack nearing the top mark to leebow starboard tacker War of the Roses, skippered by David Rose from the Brisbane fleet. 

A fast spinnaker hoist between the two windward marks, enabled the US boat to jump away from the fleet, with War of the Roses being followed by The Bottle, skippered by Richard Coxon, the former Olympic sailor and elder brother of Michael, and another American boat, Carina, helmed by Jonathon Nye from the Greenwich fleet on Long Island Sound.  Nye dropped back during the race to finish 18th.

As the huge fleet came powering into the windward mark, many on opposite tacks, the International Jury had plenty of work as "whistle blowers", as they saw apparent racing rule infringements in several close encounters. 

With this new rule for this regatta, the Jury hopes to encourage offending boats to take 720 degrees turn penalties and while they will not lodge protests themselves, Jury members will be available to give evidence at protest hearings after each race.

Jury Chairman Ronnie McCracken said that there had been 25 whistle blows during the race, most of them at the first weather mark with the fleet bunched together.  Several boats took 720 degrees turn penalties but no protests were lodged after the race.

Michael Coxon was in fifth place at the first windward mark and moved up one place on the spinnaker run with Conner extending his lead to five boat lengths, with Richard Coxon in second place, followed David Rose.

At the end of the spinnaker run the fleet has the choice of rounding two marks, with Conner electing for the port-hand rounding mark, and Coxon the first in the fleet to go for the starboard-hand rounding mark.

This took him to the inshore side of the course and when the leaders neared the weather mark for the second time, Coxon was in front, to windward of Conner, and forcing him to sail right to the layline, rounded comfortable in front. 

Coxon and Conner covered each other, gybe for gybe, on the final spinnaker run but at the end of the run they split, Conner again taking the offshore side of the course, Coxon going for the opposite inshore side. The American gained a little more pressure to seaward and came out a clear winner, crossing line about 300 metres ahead of the Australian.

ACE Etchells World Championship 2004
Pre-Race Report
By Capt Marty Rijkuris

hosted by Mooloolaba Etchells Fleet Inc
and Mooloolaba Yacht Club
Return to AY Homepage

All the sailing legends are here
With every boat built to the same design specifications and fitted with exactly the same equipment racing the Etchells class is regarded as the closest and arguably the most exciting in the world. The skipper and crews tactical nous and putting in consistent performances become the key ingredients to winning the world titles. It is no wonder then that some of the worlds top sailors have chosen to race this hotly contested one design class in between their other racing commitments.

A total of 85 three or four person crews (depending on combined crew weight of 285kg) from as far away as the US, NZ, Italy, UK, Hong Kong, Bermuda and Australia have entered and the lineup looks like a who's who of yachting over the past 20 years of International competition.

Two-time winner Dennis Conner will resume his long standing rivalry with fellow America's Cup winner John Bertrand who are separated by less than six points at the top of the International rankings. Amongst the legends is Sir James Hardy and former world champions Cameron Miles (1999), John Savage (1988, 1979) and Dirk Kneulman (1998) this time crewing for big bad Dennis on the aptly named Menace.

The uniqueness of this class allows former racing crews to take on their masters and many are lining up just for this opportunity. Aussie's Rob Brown, Mark Bradford, Noel Drennan (ex illbruck), Michael Coxon (North Sails) and Kiwi's Cameron Appleton, Grant Turnbull and Lindsay Kennedy are in with a chance as they have all preformed well, taking crucial podium places in the pre-world build up events.

Grant Wharington the owner/skipper of the Sydney-Hobart winning maxi yacht Skandia Wild Thing has displayed great form to win the Etchells Winter National Championships and aspires to go on to take the daily double. Marco Cimarosti from Italy and Mark Thornburrow representing Hong Kong can be considered outsiders but judging from past performances they also will be in the running. With 85 boats starting together, the first windward beat could well be the decider and although the worlds top sailors have gathered here, anything can happen so the series is still wide open and for the taking.

Some skippers have chosen unusual names for their boats. We have One for the Money from the US, Bertrand's Two Saints and a Magpie, Ian Johnson's Bananas in Pyjamas, Queen Annes Revenge from Sydney, Run Like You Just Stole Something from Melbourne, Blinky the Three Eyed Fish from Brisbane and No Jacket Required just to mention a few. Racing begins in ernest on Monday 2nd August to Sunday 8th if required and this time of the year competitors can expect the waters between Pt Cartwright and Mudjimba Island to be sailed in light to moderate wind conditions which will no doubt only increase the tactical challenge for the respective skippers and crew. Over 100 local volunteers are involved with measuring sails, weighing boats, sponsorship, media, PR and conducting the races which is a credit to the Mooloolaba Yacht Club and Etchells fleet for being able to conduct such a high profile event.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Etchell class, the design was born on the drawing board of renowned American boat builder Skip Etchell from Connecticut in the mid-1960's as part of an International yachting competition to design a new three man Olympic keelboat. Despite winning 10 of the 13 races the Soling was chosen instead but the Etchell has gone on alone to achieve greater global acceptance than Skip ever dreamed of.

In 1968 the E22 class organisation was officially formed with 22 feet referring to the waterline length of the boat whose actual LOA is 30' 6". The class was first introduced to Australia in 1973 and the association decided in 1990 to drop the 22 to become the International Etchells. A major result of the one-design concept is that older boats remain competitive, allowing newcomers to join the class with only a small outlay (around Aus$15 to 20k secondhand). Currently 1280 boats have been built with more than 800 racing competitively world-wide. The strength of the class is the enthusiasm and talent of all its membership paired with a well designed boat and the strict adherence to the One-Design rules.

Results will become available at

Return to AY Homepage

Sponsors of the Etchells World Championships 2004 

ACE Australian Currency Exchange, MTIAB, Maroochy Shire Council, Queensland Events, Ken Down Architects, Ronstan, North Sails, Mooloolaba Yacht Club & Marina co, Yamaha Motor Australia Pty Ltd, Zodiac Group Australia, Mainstay Marine, Kevlacat, Dolphin Marine, Peter Campbell & Associates, Advance Sports Sunshine Coast, Peninsular Beachfront Resort, Newport Holiday Apartments, Sun-air bus service, Pacesetter Etchells Pty Ltd, House of Maroochydore, Landmark Resort, The Jetty Specialists, Kelly Green and Co, The Weekender, Win TV, Mix FM, Mooloolaba Yacht Brokers, Telstra Country Wide, Cooroy Mountain Spring Water,, Thrifty Car Rentals, Wedderburn Scales, UKSA, Neumanns, Tasqua Cellars, Southcorp and Sunsport Marine, Century Batteries, Advanced Technology Training, ANZDL, P&O Nedlloyd (Shipping), Kawana IT, Harken, Quickshade, Smith Sails, Westcoast Sports.